As our buildings reopen and your child reconnects with their school community, we are reminded of how much it takes from all of us to operate the largest school system in the nation. Serving each of our 1.1 million students takes an immense amount of resources, and right now the federal government isn’t coming through with the funds that our city desperately needs.
You can make a huge difference by filling out the 2020 United States Census. While the Census deadline has been temporarily extended, I still encourage families to complete it today as the final deadline has yet to be determined. It’s a short online survey to count all New Yorkers, and it only happens once every ten years. Filling it out ensures our city gets the money, power, and respect we deserve from the federal government.
Without an accurate population count, our City will lose out on billions of dollars in federal funding for our schools, but also healthcare, roads, hospitals, public transportation, and more. New York could even lose two seats in Congress.
It is my pleasure to welcome you and your children to the 2020–21 school year! We could not have achieved this milestone without every one of you. I am grateful for your support and your faith in our public schools. So many New Yorkers have worked around the clock to accomplish this shared goal: the safe return of our students, teachers, and school staff to classroom and remote learning.
There is no doubt this has been a challenging seven months, but we should feel proud of the outstanding job New Yorkers have done to fight COVID-19. Our actions have led to weeks of very low infection rates citywide. However, the virus is still active in our city, state, and country. We know that there will be cases of COVID-19 this fall. The good news is we are prepared to fight this virus while holding true to our mission—ensuring that all our students continue to learn and thrive.
To carry this out, we have put in place strict health and safety protocols and created a COVID-19 Response Situation Room for DOE principals, which serves as a “one-stop shop” for school leaders in handling all COVID- 19 cases in schools. When principals learn of a potential COVID-19 case in their school, they call the Situation Room to report it, and medical, public health, and education staff are on hand and readily available to support principals through responding to it. Principals or their designees call the Situation Room, which helps to handle everything from there – including quickly communicating vital updates for principals to share with their school communities.
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and healthy. I am writing to you today with an important update on the start of school.
As you know, for months we have been preparing to reopen our school buildings so that if COVID-19 infection rates fell low enough in our city, we would be ready to welcome students back to school. And thanks to all of you and everything you have done over the last six months, we are there. The city has seen infection rates hovering around 1% for several weeks, making us the only city in the country able to reopen.
Even in the face of so much change, September is still the most exciting time of year. There’s a back-to-school energy in the air as all over the city, educators, students, and families are getting ready for the school year to begin.
And all of us at the Department of Education have been busy too. In this Reopening Update for Families, I am happy to share important information on:
– The 2020–21 School Calendar
– Ensuring your school’s ventilation is in good working order
– How to get tested for COVID-19 before the school year begins
– How to stay informed on confirmed COVID-19 cases in your school community
As we prepare for the new school year, I want to reassure you that we are leaving no stone unturned to protect our students, educators, and families. That is why we are doubling down on all our health and safety protocols—from ventilation to face coverings, physical distancing, nightly cleaning, and frequent hand washing/sanitizing. It’s why we will make all information available to the public.